A beautiful pair of opal glass vases
Height : 52 cm (20,5 in.) ; Diam. : 16 cm (6,3 in.)
A rare pair of white opal glass amphora vases with a naturalist polychrome decoration with birds. In a lake landscape running around the vases are polychrome ducks, handsaws, egrets. This decoration is enriched, at the foot and the neck, by gold and lilac patterns.
The technic of opal glass, obtained by addition of tin oxide, was known in Venice as soon as the 16th century. However it was only in 1810 that this technic was adapted to crystal in France. The first opal crystal pieces were adorned with a cutwork and gilt bronze mounts, but short after the painted and baked decoration then developed adorned opal crystal pieces with polychrome and refined ornaments, creating real paintings on opal crystal.
The famous crystal manufacture of Baccarat, that dates back to the 18th century, was awarded its first medal in 1823, during the “Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie” for the “brilliance and the sharpness of its crystal” and became then the most renowned French “cristallerie”. Baccarat was undoubtedly the only French manufacture, that exhibited steadily and magnificently its products at the various Universal Exhibitions, and especially between 1855 and 1867. In all reports one can read about the “perfection of the material and of its cut”. To keep its wealthy clientele, among which the Royal family, Baccarat must discover new styles and decors as well as new material, as shows that beautiful opal glass, which became one of Baccarat’s specialities in the 1850’s.
Dany Sautot, Baccarat, une histoire, éd. Baccarat, 1993.
L’Art en France sous le Second Empire, Exposition Grand-Palais, Paris, 1979, p. 238-239.
Exposition Universelle de 1867, Rapport adressé à la commission d’encouragement, classes 16-17, p. 24-25.